Many historians believe this country was founded upon revival. Christian denominations can be traced back to a revival or a spiritual awakening. Revivals can last from hours to months to years. They uniquely impact the culture of a nation, such as the First and Second Great Awakenings. Evangelist Greg Laurie states that “America needs a spiritual awakening. The church needs a revival.”
The First Great Awakening occurred within the American colonies in the 1700s and was referred to as the “National Conversion.” The colonies were divided in how they granted religious liberty, but God had a call upon America. He used George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards to unite the colonists to fear God and trust in Jesus Christ. Some 80% of America’s 900,000 colonists heard Whitefield’s dramatic preaching. And some 25% of the colonists were converted.
The Declaration of Independence, which recognized divinely granted “unalienable rights,” prompted Harvard professor William Perry to say the Declaration “was the result of the evangelical preaching of the evangelists of the Great Awakening.” What resulted were Christian colleges established to educate, train and equip a new generation of clergymen who would help to prepare America to fight for her life. The primary ones were Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, Brown, and Rutgers.
The Second Great Awakening—in the early 1800s—saw the evangelical Christian churches grow tenfold, from 350,000 to 3 million church members from 1800 to 1850. The nation’s population in 1800 was 5.3 million; by 1850 it was 23 million. Charles Finney saw 100,000 converts in Rochester, New York in 1831, and the awakening spread to 1,500 towns as an example of a nation on fire for God.
Methodist and Baptist churches increased greatly. The movement quickly spread through “camp meetings” in Kentucky, Tennessee, and southern Ohio, and out of it the Bible Belt was born. At Cane Ridge, Kentucky, in 1801 and 1802, as many as 25,000 gathered to drink the hell-fire Gospel preaching of itinerant evangelists. The awakening led to countless conversions.
In 1857-1858, the Businessmen’s Prayer Revival in New York City swept the nation. Banks were collapsing, crime was increasing and moral standards were declining. Slavery had the nation on the brink of war, and many people were working for survival. Sound familiar? This sounds like America today.
Since 1900, many movements of God have had mighty impacts. In 1904, a 26-year-old coal miner named Evan Roberts, who had prayed for a Wales revival since he was 13, asked God for 100,000 converts, and in six months, his prayer was answered. The Welsh Revival spread across the pond to America and sparked the great Azusa Revival in Los Angeles in 1906. William J. Seymour, an African-American pastor, led what became the birth of the Pentecostal movement in America. For the first three years, they met three times a day, seven days a week with a racially integrated audience. Miracles and manifestations of Holy Spirit power were witnessed in every service.
After World War II, youth organizations such as Youth for Christ, Campus Crusade and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes presented fresh appeals for youth to connect with Jesus as their Lord and Savior. God raised up Billy Graham to preach the Gospel to more people than anyone in history.
In 1968, the Jesus Movement began in California among soul-searching youth and at a time of rebellion against the status quo on college campuses. At Asbury College in Kentucky, a freshman coed named Jeannine Brabon was the prayer leader for what was perhaps the greatest campus revival in American history, in February 1970.
Prayers were answered again this past February, as Jesus moved in similar power. In two weeks, the Holy Spirit’s presence was once again felt at the Asbury campus of some 1,600 students, while 50,000 people representing 50 countries came seeking to join in what God was doing. Among them were students from 284 colleges who came seeking revival for their own campuses.
In The Coming Tsunami, Dr. Jim Denison states: “As earthquakes, hundreds of miles away from any shore can result in a singular, sweeping tsunami that plunges a country’s coastline into chaos, so, too can long-past cultural upheavals threaten to drown Christianity.”
As Dr. Denison reminds us, revivals always begin with prayers of power with these characteristics:
- Our prayers must be passionate. The time has passed for believers to waffle in our convictions. The only safe space is all in for Christ.
- Our prayers must be specific. What many people enjoy about Denison Forum is that it applies biblical truth to real-world situations. Our prayers must do the same, crying out for God’s intervention in specific ways in our culture.
- Our prayers must be continual. Like the persistent widow in Luke 18, you and I must “always pray and never give up” (v. 1).
- Our prayers must be collective. One of my own prayers for Denison Forum is that it encourages Christians to know they’re not alone. We stand together in our love for God and heart for his kingdom. Our prayers must reflect the same unity.
These prayers move the heart of God while shattering enemy strongholds. There’s no doubt evil prevails in our world. As Christians we are not called to run away. Instead, as Christians we were given a mandate from Christ to confront evil.
Debby Efurd is co-founder of Cary John Efurd Ministries. Learn more about the ministry by liking our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/CJEMinistries) and downloading our FREE mobile app (get.theapp.co) from App Store or Google Play. Once downloaded, allow notifications to keep you up to date on what’s happening in Cary John Efurd Ministries. Debby can be contacted at email@example.com. Feel free to comment at debbyefurd.com